Computer-assisted production scheduling, planning and control in foundries
The present study describes a pragmatic approach to the implementation of production planning and scheduling techniques in foundries of all types and looks at the use of `state-of-the-art' management control and information systems. Following a review of systems for the classification of manufacturing companies, a definitive statement is made which highlights the important differences between foundries (i.e. `component makers') and other manufacturing companies (i.e. `component buyers'). An investigation of the manual procedures which are used to plan and control the manufacture of components reveals the inherent problems facing foundry production management staff, which suggests the unsuitability of many manufacturing techniques which have been applied to general engineering companies. From the literature it was discovered that computer-assisted systems are required which are primarily `information-based' rather than `decision based', whilst the availability of low-cost computers and `packaged-software' has enabled foundries to `get their feet wet' without the financial penalties which characterized many of the early attempts at computer-assistance (i.e. pre-1980). Moreover, no evidence of a single methodology for foundry scheduling emerged from the review. A philosophy for the development of a CAPM system is presented, which details the essential information requirements and puts forward proposals for the subsequent interactions between types of information and the sub-system of CAPM which they support. The work developed was oriented specifically at the functions of production planning and scheduling and introduces the concept of `manual interaction' for effective scheduling. The techniques developed were designed to use the information which is readily available in foundries and were found to be practically successful following the implementation of the techniques into a wide variety of foundries. The limitations of the techniques developed are subsequently discussed within the wider issues which form a CAPM system, prior to a presentation of the conclusions which can be drawn from the study.